Tomorrow, March 11, 2017, is the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh. It’ll be a great occasion, although cold, to hear some bagpipe bands, as well as some great solo playing! If you are a bagpiper living in Pittsburgh, this weekend will be a great one to get out and perform, or to have a listen to those Pittsburgh bagpipers who will be out playing.
If you’re reading this, and have a performance tomorrow in or around Pittsburgh, it’s important to take this evening to put in some maintenance and TLC for your set of bagpipes. I would start by checking the level of hemp on all connecting joints on the pipes, making sure that they aren’t too tight. Additionally, in cold playing conditions, the bagpipes are likely to get a build up of condensation from the breath/blowing, so a dry water trap, or other moisture control system, is vital to your instrument remaining steady throughout the performance, or performances.
Personally, right now I’m playing a “hide” Bannatyne synthetic bag with a Ross Canister system and short tube water trap. This is great for controlling my moisture levels, and I can always swap in a fresh canister with dry “rocks” should my drones start to get wet and become unsteady. This is just one way to control moisture, and there are many great products out there, some with “rocks” or kitty litter like the Ross Canister system, and some with silica gel beads that cool down the air before it enters the drones, thus preventing hot air from accumulating and forming condensation.
No matter how you like to keep up the maintenance on your pipes, make sure they have been dried out and are in good playing shape, it will make your parades/gigs that much more enjoyable!